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Glen Abernethy: Working to Better Coordinate Service Delivery of Social Supports to NWT Residents

Mr. Speaker, this government is committed to achieving this Legislative Assembly’s vision of strong individuals, families and communities. By working together in partnerships we can reach our goal of healthy and educated people in sustainable and vibrant communities throughout our territory.

To help promote, preserve and manage the long-term health and social well-being of NWT residents, the Social Envelope Committee of Cabinet and the corresponding Deputy Minister Committee have introduced a number of initiatives and actions. We have previously talked about some of them, such as our actions to help reduce poverty in the NWT, promote community wellness and better address mental health and addictions issues. Today I want to tell you about some of our actions to ensure stronger coordination and collaboration in the delivery of social services and supports for NWT residents.

A number of our recent strategic frameworks, including the Early Childhood Development Strategy, the Anti-Poverty Strategic Framework, and the Addictions and Mental Health Action Plan, speak to a more integrated approach to service delivery. The shift to more consciously coordinated service delivery is also evident in the 2015 -2016 budget which included investments to support integrated approaches to case management and initiatives to improve integration of services to people with a variety of needs.

We recognize the need to examine programs and make sure that we are taking a client focused approach to service delivery. We are seeing many successes in this work. This includes proposed changes to the way the NWT Housing Corporation will calculate rent for public housing clients. Minister Robert C. McLeod will have more to say about this later during this Session.

Different departments are working closely together to promote healthy living for our youth. The Department of Municipal and Community Affairs has established a new Children and Youth Resiliency Program to support community programming that helps our youth build resiliency and be more physically active. A healthy snacks component has also been added to this popular after school, physical activity program.

Progress has also been made on protocols and training for support service delivery staff when it comes to referrals or support to clients with apparent mental health issues. The Mental Health First Aid program teaches GNWT front line workers how to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health disorders, how to provide initial help and how to guide people to community mental health resources and professional help. Mental Health First Aid training has been provided to staff in the Corrections Service as well as to staff of the departments of Education, Culture and Employment; Municipal and Community Affairs; Health and Social Services and Justice. In addition, the Department of Justice has Mental Health First Aid instructors in-house. The Integrated Case Management team has two instructors available to deliver the three-day Mental Health First Aid workshops to employees and the public.

We are also making progress on services and supports to seniors. In collaboration with the NWT Seniors’ Society, the Seniors Information Handbook has been updated. This valuable resource for seniors provides a comprehensive list of government programs and services that seniors and their caregivers can access to help them make informed decisions and remain independent and active in their home communities. A companion booklet for caregivers is being developed and will provide information to assist families caring for their loved ones. The Government Service Officers have received training on the Handbook and are using it as a resource to support effective service delivery to residents.

Mr. Speaker, these are just some examples of our work to improve the coordination of service delivery and supports to NWT residents. We will continue to advance this important work in the belief that better coordination and collaboration across GNWT departments and agencies that offer social services and supports will lead to improved access and outcomes for NWT residents.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.